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SEATTLE – (Aug. 18, 2015) – Several patients who had hip or knee replacement surgery at Virginia Mason have returned as volunteers at the hospital where they encourage other patients in their recovery from similar orthopedic surgeries.

They are part of the new Peer Partner program designed to connect orthopedic patients one-on-one with others who have a similar health care experience.

“Being able to talk with someone who has been through surgery and rehabilitation and completed the journey can relieve anxiety for many patients,” said Ann Hagensen, project manager, Patient Relations. “These conversations comfort, inspire and even motivate.”

Peer partners attend pre-surgery classes with patients and visit them after surgery at their bedsides where they answer questions and offer encouragement for the rehabilitation process ahead.

“I enjoy helping others,” said Natalie Margolis, who underwent hip replacement surgery and now volunteers as a peer partner within Virginia Mason’s Orthopedics unit. “For example, the thought of temporarily using a walker can be terrifying to many people. But I can explain to them why they should not worry and I speak from personal experience. Hearing my story can boost their optimism and enable them to see there is light at the end of the tunnel. Through sharing, there is caring.”

While peer partners do not offer medical advice, they take notes and write any concerns patients express on the white board where their nurse, physical therapist or physician will see the messages and can address issues quickly. Their services support the work of clinicians involved in the patients’ medical care and rehabilitation.

“The Peer Partner program is another valuable resource that is helping us to create a remarkable experience for our patients,” said Janet Goulding Streifel, director, Virginia Mason Orthopedics.

Currently, six individuals are peer partners and that number is expected to grow. The volunteers complete a training program in active listening and patient privacy guidelines.

About Virginia Mason
Virginia Mason, founded in 1920, is a nonprofit regional health care system based in Seattle that serves the Pacific Northwest. Virginia Mason employs approximately 6,000 people and includes a 336-bed acute-care hospital; a primary and specialty care group practice of more than 480 physicians; regional medical centers throughout the Puget Sound area; and Bailey-Boushay House, the first skilled-nursing and outpatient chronic care management program in the U.S. designed and built specifically to meet the needs of people with HIV/AIDS. Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason is internationally recognized for its breakthrough autoimmune disease research. Using the Virginia Mason Production System management methodology, Virginia Mason is an international leader in applying lean manufacturing principles to health care delivery to eliminate waste, lower cost, and improve quality and patient safety. Virginia Mason website:

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Media Contact:
Gale Robinette
Virginia Mason Media Relations
(206) 341-1509

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